DOING HER JOB by BILLA1
Disclaimer: The characters Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Superman & Flash are all owned by DC Comics. This story is intended for my own pleasure and is not for profit. It has been posted to this site for others to read. Places and characters not own by DC Comics are my own creation. This story is based on characters from The Justice League Unlimited Animated Series episode: Wake the Dead written by Dwayne McDuffie and Bruce Timm. Thanks to Merlin Missy for the beta.
DOING HER JOB
Synopsis: SPOILER FOR WAKE THE DEAD - A short one-shot post "Wake the Dead" story.
"When I do my job, people get hurt. People I care about." – Shayera Hol
"And what happens when you don't do your job?" – Inza Cramer-Nelson
"Doggone it. You should have bought the chess set with you, you idiot," he mumbled to himself as he stood outside the door of one of the guest quarters on the Watchtower. How could you forget the chess set, mush for brains?
Hours earlier he had watched as the woman he once said he loved agreed that she had to be the one to take the life of a friend to saves lives. He knew that killing wasn't easy for any of them but also knew that it had to be especially hard for her now. It was ironic, he thought, that she who had given up so much so that six billion humans would not have to die now had to personally kill one.
Yes, he was already dead.
Yes, he was a zombie.
Yes, he was a mindless monster but the monster had a name and a face that she knew.
Yes, she was a soldier who knew combat on her world just like he knew combat on this one. Killing was easy when it was impersonal. But to kill someone you looked in the eyes and knew that whatever they were, whatever they hoped to be, whatever they hoped to accomplish in this world ended because of your hand – it was very personal.
Yes, he had to see her now but not to renew a past history. There might be time for that later, but not now.
No, John Stewart, the former Marine and the Green Lantern of sector 2814, had to see her now to give her, the soldier, a chance to talk to another about the hardest thing a soldier ever did – that is to take a life.
He knocked on the door and waited for an answer. When there was no response after a minute he knocked again and called, "Shayera, are you okay? Please let me in."
He ignored the stares of the one or two individuals in the hall as they passed by him. Let them be hanged.
A quivering voice answered through the door. "John, please. Not now. Please go away."
Had she been crying?
"Please open the door. I won't stay long."
"I said go away." The voice was firmer and sounded stronger now.
"If you don't open the door," he said as he pressed his face against the steel barrier, "I'll use my ring and will myself through it so I hope you're decent because I'm coming in."
Initially, there was no response. Then he heard a soft click. The door, however, remained closed. He turned the handle and walked into the room. She sat on a silver-colored metal chair next to a small desk as she watched him enter. She was wearing the same tank top and dark jeans she had worn earlier in the day.
In the small room there was a single bed covered with white sheets and a rumpled blue blanket that showed signs that she had recently lain there. A balled up pillow was at the foot of the bed. Her mace lay in the center of the room. There were no windows and no pictures on the walls in the little room. I've not been to one of these rooms before. It's almost like a prison. Guest quarters indeed. It's more like a holding cell.
"How are you doing?" he asked as he sat on the bed. He picked a couple of downy feathers off the blue blanket and held them up for examination. He suddenly became conscious of her looking at him and he sheepishly put the feathers down.
"I'm doing about as good as can be expected," she answered not making eye contact. He recognized the tone of her voice as one she'd often used in the past when she wanted to terminate an unpleasant conversation.
"You know this is temporary, don't you?" he said as he looked around the sparsely decorated room.
She raised her head and looked at him, "The room, staying here, or you?"
He leaned back on the bed. "I meant the room." It was then he noticed that her cheeks looked dry but her green eyes were red and glistening. She's been crying. He continued, "You'll get better quarters. As for as me -"
She cut him off. "John, the room is fine. It's more than I deserve."
He leaned forward and frowned. "Knock it off. You had much better than this before. That's what you deserved then and that's what you deserve now."
She stood up and walked to the center of the small room and stood next to the mace on the floor. She looked down at it for a moment but didn't pick it up. She turned her back to the bed and Stewart. "Hawkgirl had better and deserved better. She's dead now. This is what Shayera Hol deserves."
"If that's what you think," Stewart replied. His tone was harsher than he really wanted it to be.
"Isn't that what you think?" she asked as she turned around to face him.
Neither one said anything for a moment. She folded her arms across her chest. Not the defiant way Hawkgirl had in previous years, he noticed; but the defensive way Shayera Hol had on the day she flew away and out of his life. He felt an immense sadness.
"Do you want to talk about it?" he offered. "Grundy, I mean."
She shook her head and whispered. "No."
He got up from the bed, grabbed the chair she had been sitting on, turned it around, straddled it and leaned forward against the chair back. "I'm a good listener, you know."
"No you're not. I know."
He thought for a moment she was going to smile but she didn't. "Well, I could be with some practice," he said.
She shook her head but kept her arms folded. She looked down at the mace at her feet. "No, you can't. You look at me and you still see Hawkgirl and that's who you want to listen to."
She paused and looked up at the ceiling, sighed and then looked back down at the mace again. "I'm not her. I never was. Hawkgirl was an act, John. It was Hawkgirl you…liked. It wasn't me."
He stood up and offered her the chair he had been sitting on. She didn't move. He stepped close to her, but not too close, and spoke softly forcing her to look up at him. "It was Shayera Hol who saved my life in Vegas. It was Shayera Hol who risked her life to save me and this planet during the invasion. It was Shayera Hol who saved that woman and child when their car went off the bridge today. It was Shayera Hol I said I loved when you flew away."
He paused looking for a reaction which did not come. "Maybe I really never knew who Hawkgirl was, but I think I always knew who Shayera Hol was."
She was silent and then sat on the chair, cupping her hands in her lap. "You don't know what you're saying."
He sat down on the bed again. He furrowed his brow. "That's twice in my life you've told me that. The Shayera Hol I know will get through this if she remembers she has friends who want to help. And who want to listen."
There was a short silence before she looked at him and quietly said, "Thanks."
He quickly looked around the room again, flashed a quick smile and said, "Lunch in the cafeteria?"
"No. Not now. Maybe later." She paused and then added. "By myself."
"I understand. Maybe dinner?" He tried to look hopeful.
She shook her head. "Maybe. And thanks. But I'm tired now and would really like to be alone."
He grinned. "Stagecoach."
And you said I don't listen. "Your favorite movie," he replied. "The 1939 John Wayne version of 'Stagecoach'. Where the Ringo Kid says, 'I guess you can't break out of prison and into society in the same week.'"
She looked surprised as he smirked at her. Go for the gold.
"The other line in that movie you liked," he continued, "was when the Ringo Kid said, 'There are some things a person just can't walk away from.'"
She shook her head. "Run," she said as she now smirked at him. "The line is: 'Well, there are some things a man just can't run away from.'"
Stewart returned the grin. "I knew that. I just want to see if you remembered it as well."
He stood up. "Dinner in the cafeteria at six?"
"We'll see," she answered apparently after some silent reflection.
"Okay," Stewart said he headed for the door. I tried.
As he opened the door and stepped into the hall, she called his name. When he turned around to face her, she was standing near the desk.
"Can we do dinner tomorrow at six?" she asked. "Maybe then, I'll be ready to talk about the movie 'Old Yeller.'"
"I'd very much like to hear your take on that movie for as long as you want to talk."
As he closed the door behind him, he heard her softly say, "Thank you, John."
A/N: The description of the Watchtower guest quarters came from xffan2000's excellent story, AFTERMATH and is used with her permission. Thanks.